Local Vietnam Veteran Receives Medals from U.S. Senator Cory Gardner
Fort Collins resident Robert Thydean served our country bravely in Vietnam. He never received his medals for his service as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. Recently, Senator Cory Gardner presented "Bob" with his long-overdue medals. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam in 1968, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Bob said best part of the presentation was 2-year-old granddaughter, Audrey, inserting herself into the ceremony and presenting him with 2 of the medals. She spent 9 days in the ICU just last week.
Bob's wife, Jan, and daughter, Nicole, shared these photos with me of Senator Gardner making the presentation.
Robert Thydean is the father to two daughters, Carey (Jason) of Corinth, TX and Nicole (Barry) Habel of Pierce, CO. He is the husband of Jan for 45 years and grandfather to Wyatt - 18, Rylee - 16, Stella - 5, Audrey - 2 of Pierce and Ryan - 20 and Maddie of Corinth, TX.
This YouTube video shows the medal presentation from Senator Gardner:
What Happened That Day - Robert Thydean's Own Words
April 19th 1968 A Shau Valley, South Viet Nam
C 229th 1st Air Cavalry Division, Quang Tri Providence(Based LZ Sharon) I Corp Robert Thydean, helicopter pilot of a UH1-H (Huey), member of a crew of 4 arrived @ 06:00 hrs to a field outside LZ Evans to find the lead aircraft had already arrived. We landed to his left taking the position of Yellow “3” and would be responsible for friendly artillery during the initial insertion The mission was to airlift combat troops into the A Shau Valley approx. a 45 minute flight to the west in the mountains, 3500-4000’. The weather was overcast with tops approx. 7000’ over the mountains. Over the next 30 minutes an additional 39 lift aircraft arrived along with 4 gunships for support. After an hour at ground idle, we flew over to POL and added more fuel, then returned to our assigned position in the flight. Eight Army soldiers arrived and were loaded onboard.
At 07:42 we departed with a flight of approx. 8 aircraft encountering heavy flack at the 7,000’ level and climbed to 10,250’ with no relief. An Air force pilot was on site over the landing area, directing us to a small break in the clouds which we one at a time spiraled down into the valley. The Air force had previously made numerous bomb drops creating 30’ holes in the side of the mountain for us to use as landing sites. There were 2 such holes on the north side of the mountain where we were supposed to drop off our troops. Yellow One crashed in one LZ & Yellow two crashed in the other, leaving the rest of us to hover over the downed A/C unloading the troops on top of the downed helicopters rotor blades. Upon approach, Yellow four was taking rounds and requested to go in front of us so we hovered while he flew to our left, called out Mayday, at 150’ AGL, a soldier jumped out of the right side, the A/C exploded before hitting the ground.
The radios were jammed with calls for help, everyone was taking fire, both the Door Gunner & Crew Chief were actively engaging the enemy with their M-60’s. I took off my gas mask as there was no immediate evidence of chemicals as was previously reported. We dropped off our troops in the lower LZ, departed east immediately climbing into the clouds for cover returning to Evans for another load. Upon departing from the second trip we received rounds in the end of one rotor blade causing a mild lateral vibration. Flew A/C back to LZ Sharon, exchanged aircraft for an airworthy one & returned with another load of troops for a total of 7.8 hrs flt time for the day. There were 36 helicopters damaged that day, 22 totaled, 69 deaths. Charlie Company took the most losses of life. Godspeed!
CW-2 Robert W. Thydean Awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross)